The History of the Skirt
Skirts have been worn since pre-historic times as they were the most simple covering for the lower half of the body. In Armenia, a straw skirt dating back to 3,900 BC has been discovered. In all ancient cultures in Egypt and the Near East skirts were standard whether you were a man or a woman.
The Sumerians, of a historical region in Western Asia, wore a type of skirt that was called a kaunakes. These were a type of fur skirt which was tied to a belt. Originally the word kaunakes referred to the fleece of a sheep, which is what this garment was originally made from, however over time people began to use the term to refer to the actual skirt. Eventually, a kaunakes cloth was made, which was a fleecy fabric that imitated the original sheep skin. This kaunakes cloth served as a symbol, as well, in religious iconography. The most common example of this is the cloak of St. John the Baptist, which was famously fleecy.
Ancient Egyptian clothing was mostly made of linen, and skirts were no exception. These skirts were woven beautifully with an intricate pleat for the upper class. Men wore wraparound skirts, a style that we still see today, which has heavily influenced the sarong. These skirts are wrapped around the body and tied at the waist, during those times, around 2,130 BC, the tie was at the front, however modern garments vary, and the side tie tends to be most common place. Throughout the Ancient Egyptian times, longer skirts were introduced. These often reached the ankles, and some of which would hang from the wearer's armpits. This latter style would most closely resemble a modern sleeveless dress. Towards the end of the Ancient Egyptian era, men's fashion came to include a kilt with a triangular section which was pleated. Underneath this a loincloth would be worn, which was also triangular with its ends fastened.
The Times of Trousers
Throughout the middle ages, both women and men preferred garments that were dress-like. Men's skirts, or lower dresses, were typically shorter than women's. To make activities such as horse riding possible, and more comfortable, pleats were uses, or skirts would be gored (a type of tapering) as well as being wider cut. Metal skirts were positioned below the breastplate of knights.
During the 13-15th century there were some major technological advances in weaving, which improved the tailoring of both tights and trousers. This made them more fashionable, and they became the attire for men as a standard. At the same time as this they became taboo for women.
From One Extreme to The Other
The Duan Qun Miao was the first known culture to have clothing resembling miniskirts. These were worn exclusively by women. Duan Qun Miao means short skirt Miao in Chinese and referenced the extremely short skirts that the women of the tribe wore. These were described to barely cover the buttocks and were likely very shocking for bystanders and observers at the time (medieval and early modern times).
Throughout the Middle Ages, some of the upper-class ladies would wear skirts that were more than three metres in diameter at the bottom, which was a great contrast to the miniskirt which appeared to use as little fabric as possible.
Variety is The Spice of Life
Throughout the 19th century, both skirts and dresses saw more variation than in any other century. This was seem mostly in the western culture. The waistline of these garments started extremely high - just below the bus - and over time gravitated towards the actual waist. The start of the 19th century featured very slimline skirts that were narrow.
Towards the second half of the century, from around the 1860's this increased dramatically, giving us styles such as the hoop skirt. Subsequently, this new found fullness was draped and drawn to the back using a frame design to improve the fullness and support the drape, known as a bustle.
Towards the latter end of the 19th century, in the 1890's, the rainy daisy skirt was introduced. This was used predominantly for walking or sports, as it had a shorter hemline. These skirts has usually between two and three inches trimmed off the hemline, and sometimes as much as six inches, which would stop the bottom of the skirt dragging on the floor, especially on a rainy day.
Modern Day Skirts
From around 1915, skirt hemlines no longer touched the floor at all. Skirt popularity changes drastically throughout the next fifty years or so; the 20's saw short skirts becoming fashionable, and back to the long style in the 30's. Following that skirts shortened again, due to fabric restrictions throughout the War Years. Following he launch Dior's first fashion collection in 1947, which went down in fashion history as the "New Look", fashionable skirts once more became longer. Between 1967 and 1970, skirts became as short as they could possibly be without exposing undergarments, which was very taboo. Longer skirts during this time were worn so that a woman could relieve herself in the open, and wanted to have privacy when she did so.
Since the '70s, trousers for women became an option for all occasions, excluding formal occasions. Throughout this time no one particular skirt remained the most popular, and often longer and shorter styles were featured together in articles and advertisements. Skirts are often still part of uniforms for girls and women across the world, in varying lengths dependant on the culture. In many cultures, skirts are still worm by men as well. A variety of styles are worn in South Asia and South East Asia, including the lungi, lehnga, kanga and sarong, and the kilt which is work in Scotland and Ireland.
How Can I Design My Own Skirt?
Thanks to all of these advances, and further technological advances throughout the garment and printing industry, it is now possible to create your own custom made skirt. We use the most up-to-date printing techniques to print your photos and designs onto a variety of fabrics. These fabrics are then cut and sewn in-house by our highly skilled craftsmen and seamstresses, and your custom skirt is then created. Browse our selection of styles, and start creating your custom skirt today.